18th century Fire Engines
Last week I was delighted to come across this 1785 fire engine in the Anne of Cleves House in Lewes, Sussex. It cost £65 5s 0d and was made by a company called Bristow which was based in Ratcliff Highway, Whitechapel, London.
Instructions for Use: When you play the engine to its full length hold the Branch steady, let as many men work at the Handles as can stand and likewise upon ye Treadles and take Quick Strokes from top to Bottom, when you play by Suction Unscrew the Brass Cap which stands by a Chain and screw the suction pipe when you play water out of the Cistern turn ye handle in again, let the Cistern be half full of water when you play by suction and Always keep water in the Cistern in summer but none in Winter.
William Ince and John Mayhew were both directors of the Westminster Fire Office between 1763 and 1811[i]; John Mayhew serving six two year terms and William Ince four between 1771 and 1800. They attended the weekly board and carried out inspections of properties, writing up reports. This work would have provided useful business contacts, and they also introduced some of their customers such as the widow of the third Earl of Darnley and her son, who insured Cobham Hall in Kent for £24,000 in 1789. They insured their own property through the Westminster Office, receiving compensation when their house in Silver Street burnt down in 1782(£375) and again when William Ince’s house in Crouch End burnt down in 1795 (£215).
William Ince designed a headpiece for the Westminster Fire Office policy documents in 1782 and in 1792 the firm provided 18 new chairs for the board for which they were paid £102 9s and later they were billed for other furniture when the Office moved premises.
Ince & Mayhew owned a fire engine and were paid for the use of it. In January 1773 Ince received 4s 6d being so much expended by him at the late fire in Tylers Court and in 1779 they were paid one guinea to be divided among the men as have at various times attended and worked their Engine at Fires. There was also a fire engine at Hartlebury Castle, Worcestershire when William Ince did the audit there in 1781. The outgoing Bishop bought it and took it with him to Winchester. This fire engine was valued at £5 5s 0d.
This video on YouTube shows you how a manual fire engine worked.
[i] Roberts, H.. (1993). MAYHEW AND INCE AND THE WESTMINSTER FIRE OFFICE. Furniture History, 29, 134–139. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23407791
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.